Craig Rowe Interview – I have asked various parties within the domain industry to take part some interviews to give us a little background about themselves, where they see the industry heading and how they feel the current market for domain names are our third interview is with Craig Rowe.
Craig Rowe is a 36 years old and lives near Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and two daughters. He has been building, managing and selling Internet businesses since 1997. Currently Craig manages Domain Apps (www.domainapps.com), which was built out of the WhyPark business I sold in 2009 to Parked.com.
1) What are your current thoughts on the Domain Aftermarket? i.e. Sales and Enquiries etc – General Mood of Domainers / End users?
I’m by no means an expert in the domain aftermarket, but the mid-range sales to end-users seem stronger than ever. There are definitely fewer high-end sales happening in the wholesale/domainer market.
2) Where do you see GTLDS in 3 years time?
I’m sure some will fail and others will do well. Personally, I don’t have much of an interest in them and don’t see the addition of gTLDs increasing our own business too much. I think it’ll create a lot of confusion, especially for less sophisticated users. I’d be surprised if more than a few gTLDs would gain much traction. I think a few people will do well by bringing order to the chaos though.
3) What are you or your companies investing in? i.e. Dot Com only Domains – Typo – etc?
I really don’t own much, but stick with .com only. I typically buy only those domains that I plan on building into a business down the road. I buy a few names per month at most and only from the drop catching services.
4) Do you believe in Parking or Developing? What are your tips for either i.e. Top Parking Platform (What Do You Use) – Developing your thoughts on what to develop and how best achieve it?
Both have a place and it really depends on why you own the domains and what you’re trying to do with them. If you’re looking for passive income from domains that already have traffic, then parking is best. If you think you’ll ultimately develop out the domain, then starting with a simple site may make the most sense. There really are so many variations though, and I don’t think there’s a single solution that is best for a full portfolio. Some domains may make the most sense to sell or send to an offer page. It depends on your end goal too. 10 or 20 years from now, what do you plan on doing with your domains? How could I not recommend Domain Apps as the platform of choice? You can park domains or quickly develop them into content sites (sorry for the cheap plug).
What to develop really depends on how much work you want to put into something and if you have a passion for it. I’ve always developed something out of a need and saw an opportunity for it in the marketplace. Prior to WhyPark / Domain Apps, I built and ultimately sold an automated billing platform that I started in 2001. At that time, I was doing development for customers and also hosting their sites. It was cumbersome to manage the hourly billing, flat rate billing and recurring fees and send out an automated bill on a certain schedule. So, I built it for us to use and set it up so I could bill other companies to use it as well. Several hundred million dollars in billing later, it was sold.
With WhyPark, it was the same deal. I had some domains that I wasn’t doing anything with, didn’t have traffic, but I wanted to get them live and indexed, so when I would ultimately build them out further, they’d have some momentum. That too, I just ended up building out as a platform that others could use. It was really something I built on the side while I still had the billing company, but then started to enjoy meeting the people in the industry and seeing that there was a bigger need for the service. That’s when I decided to sell the billing company and focus my full time on WhyPark.
So, to prevent further rambling, I really just develop what I see a need for and assume others may have the same issues they need resolved. I start with the basics and then build further based on feedback from customers.
5) What is your favourite domain personally or company owned?
I just bought TrainingPlans.com a few weeks back. About a year or so ago, I got into triathlon and doing half-marathons. I’m always buying new training plans and see a lot of room for improvement in that market. Since it’s something I’m really interested in, see where I could maybe improve on what’s out there, and it’s a 100% digital product, I grabbed it for about 1/3 of the price I was willing to go on it. To others, it may not match their search volume requirements or other filters, but for me, it’s something I’d definitely build down the road and could develop into a real business.
6) If you were starting out in the domain space today what are your 3 top tips?
1.) Just because you’ve read about guys with huge portfolios, doesn’t mean you should have one. Focus on getting few, good quality domains, over a large amount of junk. There are some solid domains dropping daily that you can get for under $1,000. Buy those instead of pissing away $1,000 to buy 100 worthless names. Personally, I stick with drop auctions because it’s pretty painless and I think there are still tons of deals daily. It also keeps emotion to a minimum and lets you focus on buying at the right price.
2.) Read all of the blogs and try to educate yourself as much as possible. There are a lot of great blogs telling you exactly what has worked or failed for them. Don’t think that you’ll just come in and do it better, or replicate the success of someone else. You’ll start to see a lot of the same tips or failures across many blogs.
3.) If you have some knowledge in an industry, try to start with domains in that space. You’ll be able to have a better gut feel with what would actually be a great domain for that industry. You may have a better idea of valuation at least relative to other domains in your market too.
7) What’s the next big thing that your companies are working on?
We’re working every day on new enhancements. The bigger stuff, we’ll keep quiet on until it’s out in the wild.
8) Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
It’s hard to say really. I’ve had multiple businesses over the years and some just sort of lead me into the next business. There are things I’m working on with Domain Apps, where I could see taking one piece, improving it, and making it a full business. Right now, I’m happy with where I’m at, so I’ll see where it leads me. To come to think of it, 10 years from now, my daughters will be 15 and 17 and full of attitude, so I’ll probably also need to travel a lot more. I’ll pencil in some extra time for that.
9) What has been your biggest challenge in the domain business?
Keeping up at the bar with some of the others in the industry. This isn’t exactly an early bird special kind of group. Those late nights at conferences are also where I’ve met some great people though.
10) What do you feel has been your largest accomplishment in the Business / Personally?
I’m always amazed to see something that I built from the ground up take off. When those first customers start to come in and things start scaling up, it makes me think, “holy shit, people actually like this”. From a personal level, I’m just trying to raise responsible, nice kids that I hope will do something they’re passionate about too.
I would like to say a big Thank You to Craig for taking part in this interview for RobbiesBlog.com – Please check out Craig’s sites and remember if you to develop or park your domains – Visit DomainApps.com